Study Shows What Web Users will Pay for, or Does it?

The Internet has become a playground where people surely can get something for absolutely nothing. Free news, free video, free music, even tools such as software programs and word processing services are at the order of the day.

According to a recent study by Pew Internet and American Life Project, at least two thirds of its correspondents in the United States have paid for access to at least one or more of these intangible items online.

Whether people will pay for different content types or media on the Internet is one of the most pressing questions facing online-based companies today.

As the Internet becomes more accessible to users from around the world more companies providing online services are looking to generate income from their services. Big television networks want to generate income from viewers accessing its content. Newspapers want to generate an income from users reading their content. Book publishers want to generate an increased income from users buying their content.

The question remains, with so many free content sources online, will Internet users indeed move towards a paid web where they are required to pay fees from access to content, to listening to music or even up to reading books or news articles?

According to the research conducted by Pew, online paid content may not be something unusual.

Pew said that a third of its respondent stated that they have paid for digital music or software. 21% of respondents admitted to paying for mobile or tablet applications. A number of 19% paid for online games, while 18% admitted to paying for access to newspaper, magazine or journal article content.

Among the people who paid for content, the average user spent around $10 on buying online. The extremely high-end users admitted to spending on average $47 per month on online content. This includes subscriptions as well as files accessed or downloaded.

The survey was conducted with 755 Internet users in the United States between October 28 and November 1 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Our problem, however, is the fact that the survey was conducted with a small number of Internet users. According to our knowledge and facts gathered, a larger number of younger users are making use of the Internet. This is generally a market with low to no income. Online income spent by the younger generation could be considered minimal.

A large number of Internet users often form part of illegal online file-sharing services or Warez groups. These communities often share illegal software, movies, music, e-books, newspapers, magazines and games, which amounts to billions of dollars in losses to the various industries. These groups typically consist of millions of users per individual group. The question is, will these groups start paying for content on the Internet, or simply continue with the illegal distribution thereof.

Lastly, a number of online media groups have already failed at introducing paid content. By introducing subscription or paid content, simply drove Internet visitors to competitors’ websites, which still offered free content. It has been confirmed that only a low percentage of users decided to stay with such paid services.

The study conducted among 755 Internet users surely cannot indicate the willingness of what people are ready to pay for. Free content, according to us, will remain the winners on the Internet at the end of the day.

Whether the Internet is ready to move onto a more paid-type media remains to be seen in future.

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